Genocide and nationalism share commonetymological roots:genocide derives fromthe ancient Greek
(stirp,race,kind,cate-gory,overlapping with class,tribe and people),subsequently leading to the Latin
Nationalism comes from the Latin verb
nascor,nasci ,natus sum
(to be born),later leading tothe substantive
,from the Latin
(to cut (down) or kill),has been added ontothe Greek root.
The world itselfwas coinedin 1944 by the Polish-born US jurist RaphaelLemkin (1944:19).A new term needed indeedto be minted as humanity emerged from acrime without historical antecedents,theHolocaust (Hebrew,
).Since the combi-nation ofgenocide and nationalism character-ized the darkest era ofhuman history andoccurred during the past century,both areoften associated with modernity and rapidly modernizing societies.Moreover,both relate toa third set ofterms also describing commondescent and membership in a single ‘extendedfamily’:ethnicity,‘ethnie’and ethnic group.In its original Greek connotation,
wasalready associated with the idea ofshareddescent and lineage.
The term ‘ethnic cleans-ing’has various origins,but its contemporary popular usage is a verbatim translation of the Serbian
,which began tobe used widely in the global media sincethe 1990s.Initially,it was a more ‘benign’way to describe the same unspeakable event,genocide.The exaltation ofa dominant nation as supe-rior to all others,particularly subaltern groups,inevitably leads to a series ofdiscriminatory acts against competing nations,ranging fromassimilation and marginalization to genocide.The role ofcentral governments and the mili-tary appears to be crucial in most instances of genocide,together with media censorship andpopular misinformation.Since they developed often simultaneously,acrucial question arises:how intense is the rela-tionship between nationalism and genocide?Nationalism is the doctrine that ‘the rulersshould belong to the same ethnic (that is,national) group as the ruled’(Gellner 1983:1).The doctrine assumes that a ruler belonging toan alien nationality or ethnic group is illegiti-mate (Connor 2004).However,the inverseformula is a sure recipe for ethnic cleansing,forced assimilation,mass deportation andgenocide:to claim that the inhabitants ofa spe-cific constituency must share the same ethniclineage ofits leaders is to give
tomass expulsion and the drastic re-drawing of
Genocide, Ethnic Cleansingand Nationalism
Delanty-3375-Ch-27.qxd 1/20/2006 7:14 PM Page 320